TIME Sex

This Sex-Ed Book Is Way Too Sexy, Parents Complain

Sex Spelled in Alphabet Blocks
Corbis

Teaches ninth-graders about masturbation, like they've never heard of it before

California parents are complaining that a new sex-education book for ninth-graders has way too much hot, naked sex in it.

The Fremont school board voted to replace a 10-year-old sex-ed book with a new book, titled Your Health Today, which includes details about things like foreplay, masturbation and bondage.

Some parents are not happy about it. Almost 2,000 of them have signed a petition to remove the book from schools, but the school district says it has no intention of pulling it.

“There’s a section that tells you how to talk to your prospective partners about your sexual history,” parent Asfia Ahmed told the San Jose Mercury News. “I am a very liberal person, and, in spite of that, I still find the book shocking.” Other parents were appalled to find mentions of ropes, handcuffs and sex toys.

School-board president Lara Calvert-York said that despite parental objections, it’s better to educate teens early, before they become sexually active. “Ninth grade is the last time when we have an opportunity to help educate our students on how to be physically and emotionally safe,” she told the Mercury News.

[San Jose Mercury News]

 

TIME Opinion

Dear Johns: Actually, You Should Be Ashamed to Buy Sex

The Anti-Social Network Comedy Performances
Comedian Jim Norton performs during The Anti-Social Network comedy show at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on July 3, 2011 Ethan Miller—Getty Images

Jim Norton isn't entitled to sex, but women are entitled to human dignity

After a nationwide crackdown on men who buy sex in the 8th National Day of Johns Arrests earlier this week, comedian Jim Norton wrote an essay asserting his right to pay prostitutes for sex, called “In Defense of Johns.”

Don’t get me wrong, Norton is a funny guy. And I’m all for comedians pushing our social limits in stand-up, because that’s what comedy is all about. But why can’t a famous comic like him find someone who wants to have sex with him for his good looks and sparkling personality?

Norton’s essay wasn’t a joke — it was an actual argument defending the right to pay for sex. “But really, perhaps the most shameful thing I can admit is this: I’m not really ashamed,” he wrote. “And neither should any of these other (unmarried) johns who have been arrested.”

Actually, Jim, you should be ashamed to pay for sex. And so should all the other men who purchase women and girls, many of whom have been trafficked, enslaved and repeatedly raped. No amount of rationalization can get around the basic principle of market economics: if people like you didn’t buy girls, they wouldn’t be sold, and if they couldn’t be sold, they wouldn’t be trafficked and abused.

(Of course, there are also women who buy sex, and plenty of men and boys who are trafficking victims, but let’s focus on the male-client/female-sex-worker argument that Norton is going with.)

There was one part of Norton’s essay that I did find funny. It was the part where he said all the girls he buys are oh-so lucky to be with him. “I suppose you could say I am the consummate john,” he wrote. “I’m loyal, I’m dedicated and I will always come back.” He’s different from all those other nasty, mean clients, because he’s a really nice guy! “I never pick them up to be abusive,” he said. “I always feel extraordinarily loving and close to them.” Hahahahahaha, Jim Norton. Good one!

Did you ever consider, Jim, whether these girls felt “extraordinarily loving and close” to you? I’m guessing their feelings were a bit more complicated. They might have slept with you only because they would get beaten if they didn’t make a certain amount of money that night. And if you thought they enjoyed it, they were probably faking, because that’s exactly what you pay them to do. Sure, some woman do choose this line of work, and sex-workers unions argue that prostitution can be a freely made choice, but that’s not the case for the vast majority: U.S. State Department estimates that 80% of the 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year are trafficked for sex.

And while we don’t know what the prostitutes thought of Norton, we do know what some sex workers say about their clients. One former prostitute named Kira put it this way: “You guys think we really liked having sex with you, but we would lie to you just to get your money … I hated you when I was out there,” she told men who had been busted for buying sex, according to PBS.

Men like Norton think that their entitlement to sex trumps a woman’s entitlement to dignity and safety. Many of the women they buy are among the most vulnerable human beings on the planet, no matter how wide they smile when a john rolls down his window or plunks down his credit card. According to a report cited by the U.S. State Department, 89% of people who work in prostitution worldwide want to escape. At least 65% of people who work in prostitution were sexually abused as children, and over 60% are raped on the job, according to a 2004 study by Melissa Farley, an activist and psychologist who studies the effect of prostitution on women. And according to Polaris, a Washington, D.C.–based antitrafficking group, over 40% of people trafficked for sex are under 18. Norton says he’s spent the “equivalent of a Harvard Law School education” on sex, which is precisely what keeps trafficking victims in the sex trade.

Norton claims that legalizing prostitution would help solve these problems, but what he really means is that it would be easier for him to buy sex without his pesky conscience getting in the way of his peskier penis. Because even though there are valid arguments for the legalization of prostitution, I’m finding it hard to believe that Norton really has the best interests of sex workers in mind.

Because despite the theories, there’s very little evidence that legalizing prostitution makes life better for sex workers. Even though prostitution is legal in Nevada, over 80% of the sex workers Farley interviewed told her they wanted to escape sex work. And five years after prostitution was legalized in Germany 2002, the Family Ministry found “no solid proof to date” that the legalization had reduced crime and abuse, and had “not brought about any measurable actual improvement in the social coverage of prostitutes,” according to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. Proponents say that legal prostitution can be regulated to ensure the safety of the sex workers, but German snack bars have more regulations than brothels do.

The Netherlands has also been held up as an example of what happens when prostitution is legalized, but the results are mixed. The mayor of Amsterdam said in 2003 that legalizing prostitution had failed to keep sex workers safe, since “it appeared impossible to create a safe and controllable zone for women that was not open to abuse by organized crime.”

Most arguments for legalization presume that tons of women would choose sex work if it were safe and legal, but that’s convenient wishful thinking for johns who want to let themselves off the hook. “In the real world, Julia Roberts’ character from Pretty Woman does not exist,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who organizes the National Day of Johns Arrests and advocates for harsher punishment for sex buyers. “Every time a john purchases sex, he is catalyzing a violent and oppressive industry.”

“The autonomous prostitute we envisioned when the prostitution law was enacted in 2001, who negotiates on equal terms with her client and can support herself with her income, is the exception,” German politician Thekla Walker said at a political convention. Instead, the law allows sex workers “merely the freedom to allow themselves to be exploited,” according to Der Spiegel.

Some argue that making prostitution legal could make sex workers safer, because they could call the police if a client was getting violent. But criminalizing the johns would do the same thing: prostitutes would know they won’t face jail time for calling for help, and the violent jerk would be cuffed.

That’s why targeting the johns is the best way to keep vulnerable women safe. Since Sweden introduced a measure in 1999 to target clients instead of sex workers, the population of prostitutes has been reduced by two-thirds, from 2,500 in 1998 to just 1,000 in 2013. France recently did the same, imposing fines for men who pay for sex. And even New York City prosecutors are increasingly focused on targeting buyers and pimps instead of sex workers. Because women and children will be sold as long as there are men to buy them, and when the demand for paid sex outstrips the supply of willing prostitutes, traffickers are ready to step in.

Prostitutes have been shamed and marginalized for thousands of years, but men who buy sex are considered so normal that they’re given the most ordinary name of all: john, a name shared by no less than five U.S. Presidents. Imagine the name whore was as common as john, and you’ll see how ridiculous this is — think about “Whore Quincy Adams” as our sixth President. Let’s hope we see the day when the men who choose to buy sex are shamed as much as the women who are often forced sell it. They’re the ones that should be ashamed of themselves.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

3 Reasons You Should Eat More Spicy Food

Spicy chili, Salento, Apulia, Italy in March 2014.
Spicy chili, Salento, Apulia, Italy in March 2014. DeAgostini—Getty Images

They have more health perks than you know

Hot peppers add a lot of flavor to our food, but they may be doing much more than just making our eyes water. New research shows they might have tumor-fighting benefits, as well. Here are a few reasons you should consider adding some spice into your diet.

It may reduce risk for tumors

A new study in mice published in the journal The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that the spicy chemical in peppers, capsaicin, can activate cell receptors in the intestinal lining, thereby creating a reaction that reduces the risk of developing tumors. The researchers suggest that capsaicin, which is also used as a analgesic by exhausting nerves so they cannot report pain, could help turn off an over-reactive receptor that might spur tumor growth. They fed capsaicin to mice genetically prone to develop more tumors and found that the capsaicin reduced tumors and extended the lives of those mice, especially when they were also given an anti-inflammatory drug. The findings are very new and haven’t be replicated, but it could be another win for spicy food lovers down the line.

It improves your sex life

Now, there’s some debate over how effective natural aphrodisiacs really are, but hey, if you’re not interested in trying pharmaceutical libido boosters, why not give more flavorful food a try. A review of research published in the journal Food Research International in 2011 found ginseng and saffron booth boosted sexual performance. What’s unknown are what the most effective doses are, and how it’s best to consume them. But adding a pinch here or there won’t hurt.

It helps with weight loss

Research has shown that spicy food can increase satiety, but researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Human Nutrition have also shown that peppers might actually encourage your body to burn more calories. In a small study of men and women, those who were taking pills with pepper components over one month were shown to burn more fat than those taking a placebo. Other researchers at Purdue University found that eating less than a teaspoon of dried cayenne red pepper lowered appetite and increased calorie burn.

While the science isn’t bulletproof, it’s growing, and provides a simple way for eaters to give themselves an edge. Not to mention the numbers show that consumers are eating more spicy food anyway. A 2014 food industry report found that 54% of consumers say hot or spicy foods are appealing compared to 46% in 2009. And, younger diners between ages 18 and 34 are the most likely to order something spicy off the menu.

TIME Culture

Who’s to Blame for The Bachelorette’s Slut-Shaming?

When the topic of sex comes up, female contestants just can't win

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Fox News The Five cohost Bob Beckel called The Bachelorette’s Andi Dorfman a “slut” on his show Tuesday. It’s a demeaning and infuriating comment that caters to double standards for women and men, but it’s also the kind that The Bachelorette thrives on.

Why did Beckel make the comment about Andi and not the dozens of women on these shows that have come before her? For those of you who don’t keep up on reality TV news, a sort of bombshell was dropped on an otherwise dull season of The Bachelorette Monday: the runner-up of this season, Nick Viall, broke an unspoken rule on Monday night: he talked about sex.

Both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette walk a fine line between prudishness and salaciousness by implying sex without ever explicitly discussing it. This tricky balance comes to a head in the third-to-last episode of each season when that season’s Bachelor or Bachelorette can opt into sharing the Fantasy Suite with any or all of the three remaining contestants vying for his or her heart. The two sleep in the same room (littered with candles and rose petals, though apparently not condoms) overnight, and the cameras stop filming. Sex is implied, but any footage or discussion of it is edited out.

Until Monday, on the show’s live after show. “If you weren’t in love with me, I’m just not sure why, like, why you made love with me,” Nick said to Andi on the show, mentioning that their night together was, to him, “fiance-type stuff.”

Andi responded that his question was “below the belt” but reassured him that the feelings she had shared with him were real.

(N.B. Andi shared the Fantasy Suite with two of the remaining three contestants. Most Bachelors and Bachelorettes will spend the night with all three.)

The immediate reaction on Twitter was that Nick was a crazy stalker who just slut-shamed Andi as revenge. The secondary fallout, however, has been pointed at Andi. Enter, Fox News.

“She’s a slut!” Bob Beckel said on his show. “I’m not kidding you. She sleeps with someone else, and then doesn’t tell the guy about it. This is what America’s come to, this crap.”

Panelist Andrea Tantaros responded with outrage: “Are you kidding me right now? Excuse me, Bob. You probably sleep with a different woman every night.”

“I’m not some Bachelor or Bachelorette,” he shot back.

“Those in glass boudoirs, Beckel, those in glass Boudoirs,” she replied.

Even if Nick didn’t intend to slut-shame Andi with his question, others inevitably picked up on his very public revelation about their reality TV relationship and did the deed for him.

And I honestly do believe Nick did not intend any harm. Nick’s entire M.O. this season of The Bachelor has been being skeptical of the process in the beginning but allowing himself to become vulnerable enough to fall in love with Andi on his “journey.” The show also teased that Nick was notoriously bad with breakups (this one is no exception), and he was visibly shaking during their face-to-face conversation. I would like to (perhaps optimistically) believe that Nick was truly hurt and trying to be honest about his feelings when he asked Andi that question, and simply disregarded the show’s concocted and unspoken rule that one does not talk about sex.

And if Nick was a woman, this complaint would never be considered some sort of insult to a male Andi. It wouldn’t reflect poorly on Andi if she were a man who had had sex with both contestants. We wouldn’t see complaints on Fox News.

However, Nick’s question has a problematic undertone: he is implying that Andi ought not sleep with someone unless she is in love with him.

And even though this franchise has aired for 12 years under the same premise, we still don’t like to think about the fact that people are having sex with multiple people on this show.

Correction: we don’t like to think about women having sex on the show.

After all, the men are allowed to be “players.” In the “Men Tell All” episode before this year’s finale, it was revealed that one of the contestants failed a lie detector test about the number of women he has slept with, saying previously that he had slept with less than 20. The audience laughed. When Nick asked his question, jaws dropped.

It’s 2014, so Andi has the right—like any other Bachelor or Bachelorette or human being—to have sex for a myriad of reasons besides love. Plus, the show is also constructed to make her develop feelings for more than one man at a time, so it shouldn’t be shocking that she kisses or sleeps with or does whatever with multiple men.

Nick’s question actually reminds me of an incident from the last season of The Bachelor in which a contestant named Clare showed up at Bachelor Juan Pablo’s room at 4 a.m. and invited him for a swim in the ocean. They swam—and then some. Again, the show danced around the sex, but it was heavily implied.

After the incident, Juan Pablo essentially slut-shamed Clare for having sex with him—even though he consented at the time. “Maybe it wasn’t right,” he told her on the show. “I have a daughter, I don’t want her to see what happens, if she sees it.”

Clare (understandably) was mortified because she believed she was a consenting adult having sex with another consenting adult. “I knew when we were in the ocean, that it was a mutual feeling. If he didn’t think it was right he shouldn’t have done it. I would have respected that,” she said to the camera as she cried.

Again, the woman is blamed for seducing the man, for having sex, for not waiting until she is in love. (Juan Pablo uses his daughter and family as a weapon, contrasting Clare to a motherly figure for his daughter and essentially calling her a slut.)

So if you’re a woman, it’s best not to enter the Bachelor universe. Talk of sex is frowned upon, but inevitable. Though the show itself doesn’t encourage slut-shaming—Juan Pablo did that all on his own—clearly the audience wants to use the show as a platform for slut-shaming, as happened with Nick this season. After 12 years, tacit agreements about avoiding sex talk are breaking down. Will anyone try to “pull a Nick” next season and bring up sex or even use sex talk as a strategy? Will the producers embrace this brave new world of candidness? If so, talking heads like Bob Beckel will be waiting in the weeds, ready to cry “slut.”

TIME movies

Make Chaste: How the Faith-Based Counterpart to 50 Shades of Grey Came to Be

'Old Fashioned' will offer an alternative vision of romance — but it predates its release-weekend competition

When Variety announced this week that the 50 Shades of Grey movie would have some competition in its Valentine’s Day opening weekend next year, the timing was impeccable: interest in 50 Shades had recently returned to fever pitch, with the release of the first trailer (which you can watch, above, for the umpteenth time) and that meant that the anti-50 Shades brigade was out in full force too.

That’s where Old Fashioned comes in.

“A former frat boy and free-spirited woman together attempt the impossible, an old-fashioned courtship in contemporary America,” reads the movie’s logline. The premise involves a romantic male lead who makes a commitment to not be alone with his intended until after marriage. It is, producer Nathan Nazario says, an “unconventional approach to romance” — and pretty much the exact opposite of the sex-contract-centric 50 Shades. As Variety notes, Old Fashioned’s distributor Freestyle Releasing has had success with that kind of “unconventional” before, having released God’s Not Dead earlier this year.

Though the idea of an upstart response to mass interest in BDSM relationships makes for a fun meta-narrative, Old Fashioned isn’t actually a reaction to 50 Shades of Grey.

The raunchy novel by E.L. James that started it all was published in 2011, but Old Fashioned‘s writer-director-star Rik Swartzwelder tells TIME that he’d been working on the screenplay for a decade. “I’m a huge cinema buff and I see all kinds of movies but I had never seen a film that reflected my dating life,” he says. That inspired him to create something that would.

Swartzwelder describes the film as “not a religious film, per se” but “a film with faith,” which was financed by individuals who believed in the story. The film was shot in late 2011 and, though Swartzwelder says 50 Shades wasn’t on his radar while he was coming up with the story, the team was aware of the phenomenon by the time they hit post-production. And even if the movie didn’t start out having anything to do with the bigger blockbuster that will share its release date, it was a response to what its creators see as a culture that celebrates ideas like those in 50 Shades but doesn’t seem to create stable romantic relationships. Nazario cites the American divorce rate as evidence that there needs to be an alternative to the mainstream way of finding a mate, and making a movie that presents one such alternative is one way to help that along.

So, despite the lack of a concrete tie between the two movies, the timing is — obviously — not a coincidence.

“For a small independent film with no stars, timing is always a consideration,” Nazario explains. “We were looking ahead at dates and observed that 50 Shades had put a stake on Valentine’s Day. We’d actually been thinking about that date and, when we saw that, it seemed like a good opportunity.”

Still, its audience will have to wait a few months to find out what Old Fashioned‘s creator really thinks of 50 Shades. “The answer to your question is the film [Old Fashioned] itself,” says Swartzwelder. “I’ll let people draw their own conclusions.”

TIME Panda Sex

Richard Nixon Asked a Reporter to Watch Panda Sex

A new book details the former president’s keen interest making sure his new pandas got busy

When former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gave the United States two pandas in 1972, the result, as captured in a pun-perfect turn of phrase by first lady Pat Nixon, was “panda-monium,” report the authors of the new book The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972.

And that panda-monium–something which we here at TIME, progenitors of our very own replacement panda-cam, know all about–has continued, once more proving that we are but one nation, under panda.

But the very first panda lover of all of us–the prototypical panda pursuer, the panda panderer to rule them all–was none other than bowling enthusiast and nearly two-term President Richard M. Nixon.

Nixon’s interest in his new Chinese pandas, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, was such that he was touchingly concerned with their sex lives.

Here’s Nixon’s exchange with Washington Star foreign editor Crosby Noyes, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Nixon: The problem, however, with pandas is that they don’t know how to mate. The only way they learn how is to watch other pandas mate. You see?

Noyes: [laughs]

Nixon: And, so they’re keeping them there a little while—these are younger ones—

Noyes: I see.

Nixon: —to sort of learn, you know, how it’s done.

Noyes: Sure, learn the ropes—

Nixon: Now, if they don’t learn it, they’ll get over here and nothing will happen, so I just thought you should just have your best reporter out there to see whether these pandas—

You get the picture.

In exchange for the pandas, the U.S. gave China two musk oxen, which are neat enough, sure, but it’s pretty clear who got the better end of that deal.

TIME celebrity

5 Controversial Quotes From Lana Del Rey

Day 2 - Glastonbury Festival
Lana Del Rey performs on the Pyramid stage on Day 2 of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 28, 2014 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images) Tabatha Fireman—Redferns via Getty Images

She's "annoyed" her sex life didn't further her career, but that's just the tip of the iceberg

Lana Del Rey is never boring — the eccentric pop star can always be relied on to provide at least a few nuggets of weirdness in any given interview. She’s getting flak right now for the first item listed below, but why are we surprised? She’s always got something offbeat and amazing to say.

1) She’s “annoyed” that her sex life never helped her get a record deal.

Even though one of her new songs is called “F***ed My Way Up to the Top,” Del Rey told Complex magazine that sleeping with guys in the music industry has never helped her career.

You know, I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry. But none of them helped me get my record deals. Which is annoying.

Earlier, she said:

I relate to being the person who people come to for “such a change from the old routine,” but not being the main thing. I had a long-term relationship for seven years with someone who was the head of a label and I felt like I was that change of routine. I was always waiting to become the person who his kids came home to, and it never happened.

It’s important to note that most of the coverage of this controversial quote has focused on the “I have slept with a lot of guys” part, not the effect it might have had on her career. Several big media outlets put the quote in their headlines, which can come off as slut-shaming.

2) Tesla is way cooler than feminism.

In a recent interview in Fader magazine, she made it clear where she stands on the age-old Feminists vs. Aliens debate:

“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.”

Feminist aliens have yet to weigh in.

3) She kind of has a death wish.

She once told The Guardian that she admired Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain so much that “I wish I were dead already,” which led to a lengthly discussion of mortality:

Interviewer: Is early death glamorous?

“I don’t know. Ummm, yeah.”

Interviewer: Don’t say that

“I do! I don’t want to have to keep doing this. But I am.

Interviewer: Do what? Make Music?

“Everything. That’s just how I feel. If it wasn’t that way, then I wouldn’t say it. I would be scared if I knew [death] was coming, but …”

The singer retracted her comments afterward on Twitter in a series of now-deleted tweets, saying the interviewer had asked her leading questions.

4) Her friend Juliette Lewis didn’t realize that was her on SNL.

In outtakes from this month’s Rolling Stone profile, Del Rey reveals that she was friends with Juliette Lewis before the actress publicly dissed her Saturday Night Live performance:

I was actually friends with her before that but she didn’t know it was me on TV. I had been more blonde before or something. She called me and was like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ But we got over it. Because the truth is, we’re birds of a feather in a way. In the end, we thought it was really funny.

Because messing up your friend’s hair color can happen to anybody!

5) Every day is Opposite Day.

Because Lana Del Rey is George Constanza:

“I’m really specific about why I’m doing something or writing something. But it always kind of gets translated in the opposite fashion. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve learned that everything I’m going to do is going to have the opposite reaction of what I meant. So I should do the opposite if I want a good reaction.”

When Rolling Stone pointed out that George already tried this, she says, “Oh really? That’s awesome. Me and George Costanza!”

6) She mixes up sounds and colors.

It sounds like the directions she gave to Ultraviolence producer Dan Auerbach were, um, confusing (also from the Rolling Stone outtakes:)

“I would explain things to him in terms of colors and touchstone words,” she says. “My word for the record was ‘fire,’ you know, blue fire, when a flame gets so hot it goes from red to blue. And I told him I wanted everything to sound like it was in the key of blue. And I think at first he was like, ‘What the f*ck?'”

This was mostly to distinguish from Lady Gaga, who wants everything to sound like it’s in the key of rainbows.

TIME Sex

Losing Your Virginity Is Better Than Ever

New study shows that the "first time" is more enjoyable for this generation than for previous ones

If you’re a young virgin, you’re in luck! According to a new study from the Journal of Sex Research, losing your virginity these days is more enjoyable than it’s been in 20 years, at least if you’re a woman.

Researchers found overall gender differences in male and female approaches to virginity loss, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Men are much more likely to have a “pleasurable experience” than women (a truth universally acknowledged) but also reported more anxiety surrounding the act. Women were much more likely to feel guilty after having sex for the first time.

But the good news is that those differences have changed significantly since the research started in 1980. While men reported the same amount of “pleasure” from their first sexual experience across three decades, women have reported a significant increase in first-time-fun-times since the study began. Men also reported less anxiety over the three decades, and women reported less guilt. Which means losing your virginity now is probably going to be a better experience now than ever before.

The researchers also point out that the findings are consistent with the theory of erotic plasticity, which states that female sexuality is more likely to change with social and cultural norms.

But if women are reporting more pleasure and less guilt from their first time, and men are reporting less anxiety, that’s good news for everyone!

 

TIME Dating

Is That a Look of Love, or Lust? Science Has the Answer

Smiling Couple Dating
A close-up of a smiling couple is shown. Sam Edwards—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

A wife and husband research team finds different eye movements for love and lust

Scientists may have found a way to answer a question so many people have when they’re dating: “Where is this going?” All you have to do, according to researchers at the University of Chicago, is watch a potential partner’s eyes.

A new study found that eye movements could reveal whether a person was in lust or in love. Their results, collected from male and female students at the University of Geneva, showed that participants fixated more on the face when they perceived an image to evoke romantic love but that their gaze shifted to the rest of the body when an image seemed indicative of sexual desire.

“Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers,” said the study’s lead author Stephanie Cacioppo.

Cacioppo is becoming somewhat of an expert on the biology of love. Earlier this year, she conducted research finding that feelings of love and desires for sex were located in different parts of the brain. “This distinction has been interpreted to mean that desire is a relatively concrete representation of sensory experiences, while love is a more abstract representation of those experiences,” she said in February.

Cacioppo is joined in her findings by her real-life partner in love, her husband and University of Chicago researcher John Cacioppo. “By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire,” he said. “An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians’ daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy.”

We see an eye-tracking app in the making.

TIME

6 Weird Scientific Facts About Love

Bride and groom couple
Cultura RM/Mallon Industries—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RM

Sure, you know the basics about the birds and the bees, but how much do you really know about what goes on in your body—and your mind—while you’re falling head over heels or doing the deed? Here are some fascinating facts about love and sex that may surprise you.

Health.com: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

Spouses may have similar DNA

Scientists already knew that people tend to choose romantic partners with similar characteristics, such as age, race, religion, income, and upbringings. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that people also tend to marry others with similar DNA. When researchers studied the genetic material of 825 white American couples, they found fewer differences in the DNA between married people than between two randomly selected individuals within the same race. In fact, they calculated that the tendency to pair up with a genetically similar spouse is about one-third as strong as the tendency to do so with someone with a similar education.

Health.com: Best and Worst Foods for Your Sex Life

Watching rom-coms may help strengthen marriage

Watching movies may be one key to marital bliss, says Matthew Johnson, PhD, director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University. In his study, couples attended counseling or watched relationship-themed movies and completed discussion guides together. Both strategies cut the groups’ divorce rate in half after three years—but the movie-watching activity took 50% less time and took place almost entirely at home. “The key is to talk with your partner about your relationship in the context of a movie,” says Johnson.

Women can make their voice “sexier,” but men can’t

In a 2014 study, Albright University researchers found that women were able to deliberately manipulate their voices—while counting from one to 10—to sound more attractive. But, sorry guys: When men tried to be sexier, they were actually rated as sounding worse! When a woman intentionally drops her voice to make it sound low and breathy, she’s often perceived as more attractive—but not exactly for the reasons you might think. Men tend to prefer women with higher, more feminine voices, says co-author Susan Hughes, PhD, associate professor of psychology. But when a woman lowers her voice to “sound sexy,” she’s signaling her interest in a potential mate—a clue that men are able to pick up on.

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You’re less likely to get grossed out when aroused

Sex can be a messy activity with lots of fluids and smells, but in the heat of the moment, none of that (usually) seems to matter. According to a study from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, that’s because sexual arousal overrides the body’s natural “disgust response.” When researchers asked women to watch either an erotic film, a sports video, or a “neutral” video of a train, and then perform a series of unpleasant acts (like drinking out of a cup with a bug in it), they found that those who’d watched the sexual acts rated the tasks as less disgusting—and were also able to complete more of them. Previous research has suggested that sexual arousal has a similar impact on men, as well.

Love is good for your bones

Marriage appears to strengthen men’s skeletons, according to a University of California Los Angeles study, especially if they wait until after age 25 to tie the knot. Researchers aren’t sure why, but they point out that it’s not the first time marriage has been linked to health. Other studies, for example, have suggested that married people live longer, are more likely to survive cancer, and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Old people do it, too

Sexual interest and sexual function do both decline with age—especially as adults begin to take more medications—but that doesn’t mean that senior citizens aren’t still getting it on. “Many people do continue to have sex into their old age, often until death,” Garcia says. And they’re not always careful: “Besides teenagers and young adults, the elderly is the biggest population for sexually-transmitted disease spikes,” he adds. “They’re not worried about getting pregnant, so they’re not using condoms.”

READ MORE: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love on Health.com

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